• image of rooftop garden
  • image of cheese plate
  • image of avocado soup

Noble Rot

Wine - Booze - Food - View

HISTORY

The fungus, BOTRYTIS CINEREA, shrivels up grapes and robs them of much of their juice. In some cases the wine made from these fuzzy raisins is exquisite. Those clever Brits nicknamed this mouthful of a mold “Noble Rot.” Kimberly Bernosky had a vision for a restaurant that would bear this peculiar name and Courtney Storrs, helped her realize it.

The restaurant opened in May of 2002 in what looked like a two story garage on Southeast 28th and Ankeny. An ancient plank of Fir split the diners from the staff and a little shoebox of a kitchen pumped out hot food as we made salads, sandwiches and charcuterie behind the bar. Kimberly and Courtney introduced the idea of wine “flights”: three wines organized around a theme (varietal, geographical, producers, etc…). Portland freaked out. The Rot was at once sophisticated, welcoming, educational, delicious, vibrant and wacky.

The food was wine driven- small, seasonal plates designed to support the rotating offerings from Kimberly and Courtney. There were signature dishes almost immediately: onion tart, Noble salad, our gooey mac and cheese and a deceptively simple brownie with caramel and vanilla ice cream. We also flexed a little bit, serving more elaborate dishes featuring local fish, meats & foraged fungi. Willamette Week named us Restaurant of the Year in 2003.

In 2008, when we moved to the Burnside Rocket Building, on Eleventh and Burnside, we shed a lot of funky. Our new space, on the fourth floor of a modern building, is suave and airy with a panoramic vista of the entire city. We have a liquor license so you can booze it up before your burgundy. We have a muscular kitchen that can handle sophisticated preparations and significantly more business. We have an organic rooftop garden that supplies produce and inspiration 7 months out of the year.

We grew up a little but we didn’t sacrifice our spirit. We still have a private dining room for anything you can dream up. Courtney and Kimberly continue to offer innovative flights and hard-to find, delicious wines at reasonable prices. And the food, while broader in scope, continues to reflect seasonality and creativity in the service of our wine program. We remain dedicated hosts, committed to providing a seamless, enjoyable experience. And hey, we’re still a little wacky.

In 2018, Noble Rot was nominated semi-finalist by the James Beard Foundation for having an exceptional wine program.

image of Greg Smith – Executive Chef

Greg Smith - Executive Chef

Greg is a disciple of the “let-the-ingredients-speak-for-themselves” approach, an artisan of food that is recognizable and accessible but still a bit provocative.

After cooking stints in Chicago (Charlie Trotter) and Atlanta, in 2003 Greg was one of the Rots earliest kitchen hires. He took over the Executive Chef role when Leather Storrs (our founding chef) left to open a new restaurant (which happens to be in the space we are in now). Greg left us in 2007 to travel, but then rejoined us again in 2009 for about a year. After leaving us a 2nd time for yet more travel, he found himself back in Portland a year later. Settling in, he met his wife, had 2 kids and became Executive Chef at Grain & Gristle. He received many accolades as head chef and he put G & G on the map. In August of 2019, Greg came home to the Rot and is Co-Executive Chef with Joseph Hickey.

On the personal side, Greg is a devoted husband, father of two boys, gardener, tomato lover, eclipse chaser, and a wannabe semi-pro snowboarder. He was featured on Chopped, which aired on Sept 10, 2019.


image of Joseph Hickey - Executive Chef

Joseph Hickey – Executive Chef

Having spent 18 years in Dallas, Texas Joseph arrived in Portland in 2009 and The Rot snatched him up immediately. He wore many hats in Texas; construction worker, barkeep, rock & roll drummer to name a few. He opened a catering company in 2000 and that led to his first restaurant, “Savory” in the spring of 2003 and his second restaurant, The State & Allen Lounge a few years later. But as all good things come to an end, Joseph had to let his best buddy go (a dog named Kika Raye) after thirteen years, and so, being dog less, and with a heavy heart, decided it was time for a new start.

 

He wanted to go farther west than Texas and Portland looked like a great place to start so he packed up and headed out Oregon way knowing no one or nothing about the Pacific Northwest. Joseph still wears many hats; chef, teacher, plumber, refrigeration repairman, deep fryer fixer & guy that can find anything you’ve misplaced.


Allison Smith - Dining Room Manager and Event Planner

Allison grew up in Bend, Oregon. She joined Noble Rot in 2010 and immediately elevated our service. She extrapolated from Kimberly’s casual serving background (brew pubs) and Courtney’s high end experience (French Laundry) and helped to create the casual, professional, friendly, knowledgeable service we are known for. She also handles all special dining events including lunches, business dinners and parties. If you are interested in booking a special event contact Allison at noblerotevents.smith@gmail.com


Josh Wiesen - Bar Manager

Hailing from the Midwest, Josh came to the Rot in 2015. Even though we are mostly known for our James Beard nominated wine program, Josh has put our cocktail & liquor program on par with the best bars in the city. We have an extensive whiskey list (over 40) and feature seasonal cocktails often using ingredients from the roof top garden.


Kimberly Bernosky - Co-Owner & Founder

By some accident, Kimberly Bernosky was born in the state of Delaware. At fifteen she realized her grandfather’s dream and migrated to Oregon with her family. She went to Oregon City High School and then onto Portland State University. After a few stints at ‘real jobs’ she started working as a server for the McMenamin’s brewpub chain. In 1992, the McMenamin brothers gave her a job in their new winery and tasting room. Her love of wine took root. After traveling to Napa, Walla Walla, France, Italy, Argentina & Chile she opened a retail wine shop, Beaumont Wines. One day, Courtney walked into Beaumont Wines looking for a job in the wine business. After working together for a few short months, Kimberly knew Courtney was the ‘one’ with whom to open a wine bar and the seed for Noble Rot was planted. Kimberly handles the front house including managing, wine buying, & bookkeeping. She loves to travel and run marathons. Kimberly lives in southeast Portland with her husband ‘Sunny D’, step-daughter Dylan and 3 dogs.


Courtney Storrs - Co-owner & Founder

Courtney Storrs is like a grafted grape: deep mid-western roots supporting a seriously pro-Oregon vine. She started working in restaurants when she was 16 and managed her first restaurant at 20. During her college career at the University of Colorado, restaurant work funded her need to ski. Courtney fell in love with wine while working at The French Laundry in Yountville, California. Courtney traveled the US and Europe before settling in Portland, where eventually she took a job at Kimberly’s wine shop. She began to study and taste wine critically. She also worked at Brick House Vineyards, assisting in the production of the ’99, ’00 & ’01 vintages. Courtney has a strong appreciation for food, wine, and service and has always enjoyed dining with family and friends. She's addicted to tennis, she hikes up Mt. Tabor when time allows, she finds herself out in the Gorge as often as possible and loves spending time with her two children, Rye & Charlotte. Courtney runs the front of the house with Kimberly.